The Impact of Free Secondary Education: Experimental Evidence from Ghana
Following the widespread adoption of free primary education, African policymakers are now considering making secondary school free, but little is known about the private and social benefits of free secondary education. We exploit randomized assignment to secondary school scholarships among 2,064 youths in Ghana, combined with 12 years of data, to establish that scholarships increase educational attainment, knowledge, skills, and preventative health behaviors, while reducing female fertility. Eleven years after receipt of the scholarship, only female winners show private labor market gains, but those come primarily in the form of better access to jobs with rents (in particular rationed jobs in the public sector). We develop a simple model to interpret the labor market results and help think through the welfare impact of free secondary education.